Sunday, December 1, 2013

The sweetest of goats...

This post has been a hard one for me to write. It's been over a month, and I am still having trouble writing these words: Our little goat Sweet Pea died.

I'm still processing her death...still expecting to see her in the barnyard and hear her babyish sounding maw. I miss her. She was our little "special needs" goat.  At least that's how we've referred to her since she started her life so precariously.  Born the runt, and half the normal size of a pygmy goat, she nearly died at birth and required a lot of work to keep her alive her first few days.  She never did grow very big in size, but she was big in stature.  She was everyone's favorite goat.  Her "maw" sound was as babyish as her size, and captured the heart of everyone who met her.  Little children in particular would find a friend with her gentle ways and tiny stature.  One of our daughter's friends once commented happily, "sweet pea is small, just like me."

She got extra treats, not just because she had favorite-goat status, but because she would quietly slip out of the barn every morning after I brought the hay and wait patiently for one.  While the other goats were munching on the new hay, she would come to the gate and stare hopefully at me, quietly begging for a treat.  She would throw in one of her tiny-sounding maws just for good measure (which had the same effect on me as a crying baby) and I would of course be compelled to give her a handful of treats.

When we let the goats out for a "field trip" it was always entertaining to watch her run.  She would have to run double time on her short little legs to keep up with our other goats.  And when she would leap in the air, it was always with such joy.

She was a gentle soul, and as funny as this sounds, a really cute goat.  Hoof trimming, however, caused her great embarrassment.  Goats have a keen sense of things and somehow always seem to know when it's 'medicine day', 'bath day' or 'hoof trimming day'.  Sweet Pea would try and hide from us under the shelf in the barn.  Which was funny as she always hid in the same place, and we always pulled her out!  She didn't seem to learn that we would always prevail on her least favorite of days--hoof trimming day.  We frequently ended up trimming her hooves on one of our laps, as she was too small to fit into the stanchion.  And the process took a while as she would tuck her hooves under her ample belly trying to hide them.

We knew from the beginning of her life that she wouldn't live as long as other goats.  And even after her first year she had some occasional respiratory issues.  She got a cold most every spring and fall. I would dose her with some extra vitamins, selenium gel, and other natural medicines that I could find for goats.  And eventually, she would recover.  However, this summer, I noticed that she just didn't look quite as robust or as energetic as usual.  I made a mental note to myself to keep an extra eye on her, but the truth was that she just looked like a goat in decline.  I added up her years and realized that she was 5 1/2 this Fall.  Which was actually longer than the vet originally thought she would live.  So, when she got her usual Fall cold, I worried.  I did my normal care for her, but my gut told me that it might just be her time.

When the end came however, it came quickly.  On Tuesday night she was breathing loudly, but still came out for treats.  But by 7 am on Wednesday morning when I went out to the barn for the morning feeding, she was on her side, struggling to breath and unable to stand up.  I moved her into a comfortable place, with some extra bedding underneath her and ran my hand over her side while she died.

This was not the first time I have buried a beloved pet, and it won't be the last time either.  As much as I understand the cycle of life, I have had a particularly hard time accepting this loss. Our other goats seemed a little off that first day, but they quickly recovered.  Goats are very intuitive creatures and I think they understood that she was sick, and definitely understood that she had died.  Goats do best when they know what is happening. They are curious, bright and do not like changes--pretty similar to people really!

I am grateful that we got to have Sweet Pea, and that we were able to watch her grow and share her life. A dear friend gave us some sweat pea seeds to plant over her grave (which is very close to the barn where she lived her life), and we will plant some every Spring and think of her.  She brought our family much joy.

Here are a few pictures of her...

Three months old

Sweet Pea with Sophie

Young Sweet Pea
Basking in the sun in their favorite spot

Grace's Harvest Fair rendition of Sweet Pea!

Sweet Pea and Blackberry with a young Silver

Sweet Pea jumping for some treats!

Happy goats on a "field trip" in the garden

Sweet Pea enjoying "recycling" our Christmas tree

Goats playing in a January snow


  1. Oh, Megan! I'm so sorry for your family's loss of Sweet Pea. What a perfect tribute you wrote for her. Very beautiful and full of love. She was an adorable one and your family gave her a perfect life :) Lots of love to you guys!

  2. So sorry to hear about little Sweet. She was adorable. I hope your heart heals quickly.

  3. I feel your loss. Thanks for sharing this beautiful portrait of her. Blessings on your healing.

  4. Sweet Pea truly was a special little spirit and she left too soon but God must have needed another angel in Heaven which is where I believe the spirits of all living creatures go when they leave earth. Even though it is so painful to process her loss, Megan, hopefully it is comforting to believe that she completed her work on this earth and is now home with a loving Creator and watching over your family from that incredible place. Hugs and affection, Heather Coats

  5. Thank you everyone for your kind words of support. I think part of why it's taken me so long to finish this post is that writing about her death has required me to sit with this loss and process it. And I've been reluctant to do that. It's definitely time though and writing about her life and death has truly helped. Thank you!!